Count the Cost

Count the CostIn every decision we make, two resources are at risk: Time and Money.

One, or both, will either be consumed, or invested.

The management of each is within our control.

We choose whether to spend, or invest.

We either choose, or the world will choose for us.

In fact, even when we choose, the world is prepared to laugh at us. That’s OK if we have put forth the effort to become all of which we are capable. The laughter of others, then, is simply their opinion of our effort. Success is the peace of mind in knowing we did our best.

Our best is only possible with Planning, Preparation, Practice and Performance. In any endeavor, these components form a circle of learning and growth.

All We Do Begins With A Thought

These seven magic words (above) ending in a seven letter word (THOUGHT), with U in the center, are the Alpha and Omega of the Four P’s.

In the beginning, is a Thought; the bigger and bolder, the better. Because, that initial thought becomes a target, a Goal if you will, worthy of what we choose to Do. The Four P Horsemen of Planning, Preparation, Practice and Performance will carry our effort through to a result and the appropriate Celebration of accomplishment, at the end.

This is the natural progression of a single Thought:

1.) Goal
2.) Planning
3.) Preparation
4.) Practice
5.) Performance
6.) Celebration

All We Do Begins With A Thought

From the moment we have a Thought, all the way through the process of what we Do, there will be a Cost to every choice we make, guaranteed.

From the Good Book, comes this encouragement:

But, don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, “There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!”

In every decision we make, two resources are at risk: Time and Money.

Of the two, Time is the most precious. Those who consider themselves Idea People, with runaway thoughts, fail to recognize the Cost for their flavor of the moment. If they are thinking about This, it is impossible to think about That.

There’s a Price we pay for, absolutely, everything.

As the progression of activity moves forward through each stage, from Thought, to Planning, Preparation, Practice and Performance, there is either an actual monetary Price, or an opportunity Cost of forgone alternative options. Even, the occasion of joyful Celebration requires the resources of Time and Money for the opportunity to tie ribbons and bows around the accomplishment.

Guess what, though? With accomplishment, come even bigger dreams. They will arrive in the form of more and different thoughts about new opportunities, heretofore, unseen. The cycle of learning and growth repeats.

All We Do Begins With A Thought

Please, count the cost.

www.kimfoard.com

Coach

Pyramid of Success“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

John Wooden,
Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach
~

All we do begins with a thought.

To achieve success, there must be: “The Want To” — That’s the thought.
Then, there must be: “The Want To, Do” — That’s the action.

Knowing and Doing are two very different aspects of life. One is passive. The other is active. One is a state of mind. The other is the motion of body. One without the other is of little value.

Recently, a story about Coach Wooden grazed my consciousness. Then, it began to burrow deep within my soul. Now, that thought has become an action — to share my discovery with you.

From the book Great by Choice is a compelling narrative about Coach Wooden. He started each new college basketball season with the same comment, “We will begin by learning how to tie our shoes.”

Just imagine the freshman players thinking, “Why?!” The seniors eagerly participated in the lesson How to Tie Our Shoes, because they knew, “There was a way to do everything.”

In the words of one player, “By the time the games came along, they just became memorized exhibitions of brilliance.”

That high level of excellence was built block by block from the blueprint of Coach John Wooden. It was much more than a game plan. It is a philosophy of life and competition. As timely today as it was for the his century of performance, Coach aptly named it a Pyramid of Success.

At the heart of everything I know about Coach Wooden, he was respectful of Time and Tone. Practices began and ended like clockwork (Time). He opened the first moments of practice in a quiet voice (Tone). The passion at his core produced Planning, Preparation, and Progress to reach Goals.

All we do begins with a thought.

The thought was to encourage development of their best — from everyone within his sphere of influence (the Goal). The actions were focused on Planning (Pyramid of Success), Preparation (How to Tie Shoes), and Progress (National Championships).

Thought without action is worthless.
Action without thought is dangerous.

Time can be well invested by examining the Tone, at The Official Site of Coach John Wooden: http://www.coachwooden.com/

Be sure to click on Pyramid of Success, at the top of this page. Coach starts his building process at the lower left corner. Industriousness is the first cornerstone in the foundation of the Pyramid of Success. The second cornerstone is Enthusiasm.

Click on each building block for the rest of the story.

In our daily conversations, with one another, we Talk about these principles. Funny, though, isn’t it? So easy to say — yet, so, very, hard to Do.

Coach simply inspires and encourages us to remember and do.

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Up To and Through

Up To and ThroughIn regards to four letter words, this phrase trumps all others: “When this, then …”

Social Media exchanges and Text messages are replete with a variety of abbreviations and acronyms. It seems WTF is used as frequently as LMAO to provide dramatic exclamation.

Cloaking the unpleasant behind a mask of letters to make the offensive, somehow, more acceptable seems to be the hieroglyphics of this era of time.

In the category of WMD is WTT: “When this, then …”

We’ve all heard friends say and do it; in those moments of complete honesty, we even ‘fess up and admit saying and doing it. “It” goes something like this, “When I reach this age of twenty-one, then I can enjoy the benefits of adulthood.” Or, “When I discover this gem of a special someone, then I can learn to build dynamic relationships.” Or, “When I produce this adoring child, then my life will have purpose.”

Excuse me while I string together all of the Capital Letter acronyms above to dramatically exclaim, “What a JOKE!”

Lives are wasted by waiting on the barometric pressure, alignment of planets, phase of the moon, price of computers, political parties, religious beliefs, and perfect people to all synchronize into a defining moment of wonderful splendor. It ain’t gonna happen folks!

Let me introduce the concept: Up To and Through.

As we begin, it is important to acknowledge the anticipation of events. Stated simply and eloquently, there is:

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

It is natural and right to look forward to the seasons of life. Reaching goals is important. Resting to savor the success is one thing; thinking we have “arrived” is something entirely different.

The secret key to the hidden treasures of life is: Up To and Through.

Imagine a bicycle and the activity required to enjoy it. Since life is a journey, we need a mode of transportation, right? Setting aside the option of riding on the coattails of others, let’s continue the bicycle analogy. Hop on and let’s go for a ride.

Sure, we can ride in little circles around the neighborhood. Or, we can pick a farther destination. The universal principle is that we will begin with small circles and then move on to bigger ones. Unless we choose to remain in comfortable ruts, we will continue to pursue the challenges of the unknown.

We begin our bicycle tour by picking a spot for riding “up to.” As we reach that destination, we pedal “through” to another location, for the express purpose of continuing the fun.

Life is like that. The fun is in the doing.

And, doing; and, doing; and, doing, …

You get the idea: Up To and Through!

www.kimfoard.com

Sacrifice

Giving and ReceivingThe answer to the human condition, literally, leaped from the screen into my consciousness. Last week, a Fellow vented his frustration at me by announcing, “I never sacrifice, even for friends because: a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.”

First, let me share the rest of the story. As you read through the conversation thread, below, which was the catalyst for the Fellow’s remark, remember to always listen carefully to what people say and you can, vividly, see into the core of who they are.

The topic of discussion on this professional forum for the exchange of ideas was about which word is best: Customer, or Client.

(Kim Foard) Much more than a matter of semantics and the focus on our “professional” command of the English language, the concept is to build a relationship and produce positive results. From experience, I have found some (of those for whom I work) like the word Client, others like the word Customer, and everyone (who pays me) loves to believe they are my Friend. Let’s raise the bar and think of those we serve as Friends!

(Fellow) Friendship can happen, but the vast majority are business relationships and not friendship, IMHO.

(Kim Foard) One thing I have noticed: My “enemies” respect me; they don’t do business with me as Customer, Client, or any other label.

(Fellow) True, but being friendly is not the same as being a friend.

(Kim Foard) Again, it is a matter of semantics. Included in my definition are these parameters: “Friends” deserve the best in everything. No sacrifice is too big, or task too small, when friendship is being nurtured.

(Fellow) I never sacrifice, even for friends because a) if they are true friends they would not want me to sacrifice, or b) I would be willing to do it and therefore was not a sacrifice.

(Kim Foard) You’re right! It is a spectrum of thought. You and I have clearly identified the “Pots of Gold” on each side. The real secret is to be passionate about our beliefs, because we will attract those of like mind.

In my humble opinion (IMHO), he is “right”, only, in the context of being entitled to his opinion. What is your belief? As you can see, the conversation morphed from a matter of semantics into one of foundational issues at the core of any relationship. The label choice between Customer vs. Client pales into insignificance when measured against the word: Sacrifice.

Is sacrifice important? Is it old-fashioned? Is it taken, or given? What do you believe?

Let’s set the stage for our thoughts by considering two simple Proverbs:

When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.

Calloused climbers betray their very own friends; they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.

Thoughts of the vernacular, which might come to mind: “With friends like those who needs enemies.” And, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Yet, we are encouraged to move our thoughts, words, deeds and character to a higher level.

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Right about now is when we, all, start squirming and looking for the semantic Exit Strategies. With thoughts running wild: Great idea, cute concept, life changing; we accept the realization that Knowing and Doing are very different. Yet, we remind ourselves and move, forward, through the pain: Hard is easy; Easy is hard.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

The idea that one person can define what sacrifice is to another individual reeks of arrogance and ignorance.

When we ask for anything from another person (as simple as a glass of water; or, as complex as the price for an exchange of goods and services), they make a choice between Yes and No. If the request is beyond a boundary of theirs, they will choose: No. If the request is within their will to deliver, they will choose: Yes.

To fulfill our request, another individual might offer a sacrifice.

What is a sacrifice?

Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable or of preventing some evil.

Something of value given away or up in order to gain something more important or to benefit another person.

One word, sacrifice, is the thesis of “Giving to Receive.” It is an individual choice executed by the internal will of that person. No managing by committee. No having it all. No maybe in approach. Sacrifice is a committed decision to offer. What another person does with the offering is their choice.

In my closing remarks in the conversation with the Fellow above, the “Pots of Gold” on either side of the rainbow are Time and Money. In business, the focus is generally on Money and the opportunities it can buy. Of the two, Time is more precious, because of the priceless relationships it can build.

When my Friends offer money in exchange for the value of my time, plain and simple, they are making a sacrifice. From the blood, sweat, and tears of their effort, they produce value in the marketplace. The money earned, by the sacrifice of their time, has great value to them. They exchange it for something perceived to be of greater value. I acknowledge and appreciate their sacrifice.

As their Friend, I believe in: Going far beyond the call of duty, Doing more than others expect, Striving after and maintaining the highest standards, Looking after the smallest detail, and Traveling the extra mile. Sacrifice means giving my best, in everything and every way.

Beyond the realm of business, the gift of Time is a daily sacrifice that we all make. The question becomes: At which altar do we place it?

On the altar of Narcissism, humility is sacrificed by those who believe they are the center of the universe.

On the altar of Friendship, pride is sacrificed by those who believe they are, simply, conduits of goodness for the benefit of others.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

www.kimfoard.com

Price We Pay

The Magic FormulaBy eliminating variables, we arrive at one thing certain.

This is a story of three entrepreneurs: Eric the electrician, George the geek, and Lorna the landlord. The mystery for us to solve: Although unrelated by blood and marriage, how can they all have the same big sister, Iris, who requires their support?

Lucky for us; we have The Magic Formula as a guide to the answer. It is available by clicking the image above, or this Link. Much more than a guide, the Magic flows from an awareness of our resource choices: Time and Money.

Eric is an industrious fellow, who has a passion for service. He has completed years of formal training; has worked his way through the ranks of Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician; and, now wants to live the dream of being his own Boss. Captain of his own ship, Master of his own destiny, a Servant of the people: taking care of his very own Customers.

Since Eric has all of the tools and seed money necessary for starting his Company, there is no need for a Banker, as a partner. Based on the household budget, he knows that his family needs $40,000 per year, after taxes.

As a self-employed individual, he will pay both halves (Employer plus Employee) of Social Security and Medicare taxes, for a combined rate of 15.3% on all net profit of his business. Much trickier are Federal and State income taxes, which are calculated on a progressive scale. At the lower brackets of income and with benefit of tax credits under current law, income taxes are of minimal concern. He anticipates an effective total tax rate of 20%.

In business, Overhead is a gracious way of saying: There is a price for Eric’s dream. Technically, Overhead is the delivery system of value from provider to consumer. For the joy of having that magnetic sign on the side of his truck and walking into his shop each morning to switch on the lights, at a minimum, Eric will pay $60,000 each year.

Now we’re ready to do 4th Grade math. We will simply Add, Subtract, Multiply and Divide.

Because taxes take 20% of Eric’s total Net Profit “pie”, his after tax $40,000 must be 80% of that same pie. Thus, we Divide $40,000 by .80 to know that Eric needs $50,000 of Net Income for the year. To prove that this target is accurate, we double-check the numbers: First, we Multiply $50,000 by .20 to find that, indeed, Taxes are $10,000; then, we Subtract $10,000 from $50,000 to breathe a sigh of relief in knowing Eric has $40,000 for his family.

Before Eric even gets to Net Profit, he must first make Sales to Customers of $60,000 each year, just to cover his Overhead and “keep his lights on”. Therefore, we Add the amount of Net Income ($50,000) to Overhead ($60,000); Eric knows exactly his sales target for the year, which is also a representative value of his time to provide quality services: $110,000.

Remember that needy sister, Iris? Your suspicion is right. Her nickname is IRS, the Internal Revenue Service; the one in need of that $10,000, above!

Now, the fun really begins, because we are to the point of this story: Who pays taxes? Is it, really, Companies and Businesses, as the Governor of the State of Montana believes? What happens when Big Sister decides she “needs” twice the amount of support and will use new tactics to take it?

Let’s answer these questions by reviewing the components of The Magic Formula. Does Eric need $40,000 for his family? Yes. Is the effective tax rate under current law approximately 20% for those in Eric’s income bracket? Yes. Does every business have expenses of Overhead in delivering value to the marketplace? Yes. Since these are all accurate variables, we find ourselves with the ultimate question: From where does the money come? Answer: Customers.

Who are customers? That would be: You and Me.

We pay Eric for the value he provides to us: the value of understanding the dynamics of electricity and how to bring it into our homes for the benefit of our families. He, in turn, shares portions of this Price with Vendors, Government and his Family.

At this point in our story, some may ask the question: “Why doesn’t Eric just keep on working for his current Employer?” For those individuals who are unemployed, the answer is obvious. For the ones still employed, the answer is two-part:

1.) Eric has discovered a better way to light up the lives of Customers, which his current employer is unwilling to accept.

2.) Because of the Universal Financial Principle above, Eric’s base compensation from any company is limited to, approximately, one-third of what he produces for an employer; Taxes and Overhead take the rest.

Prices are not arbitrarily set by businesses. Every business wants to be competitive in the marketplace and they know Price is one measurement of Value, subject to the perception and judgment of Customers.

Now, what happens when big sister, Iris, wants more? Not just a little more, a lot more!  In fact, she wants to double her consumption. Let’s do the math.

Eric still needs $40,000 for his Family and he still has Overhead to pay. So, by using the structure of The Magic Formula, we can solve for the amount of Taxes and the new Price his customers will pay. $40,000 divided by .60 is $66,666 (Net Income) multiplied by .40 is $26,666 (Taxes), which leaves $40,000 for Eric and his family. If all of Eric’s business expenses (Overhead) remain at the $60,000 amount, his Customers will need to pay $126,666 for the value of his services.

From $110,000 to $126,666, we (Customers) pay $16,666, more!

Remember the rest of our cast of characters: George and Lorna? George provides computer services to Eric; and, Lorna provides the building space for his shop. What do you think George and Lorna will be doing to the price of the value they offer to the marketplace?

If they want to stay in business, they will be doing what Eric was forced to do: raise their prices, too. George and Lorna are part of the $60,000 in Overhead that Eric needs to pay each year. When that $60,000 amount increases, who pays? Yes, once again, the answer is: We the People!

This is for certain: We pay a price for everything.

www.kimfoard.com

Generation to Generation

The CowboyThe Pendulum Swings

Much is explained in the statement, “Sons are more like their grandfathers than their dads.” When I first heard it, I wondered, “Why?” Then it dawned on me, “We always want what we don’t have.”

This is a story about my son, his grandfathers (maternal and paternal), his great-grandfather, his great-great-grandfather, and his great-great-great grandfather. Truly, it is a great story!

My son experienced a sense of community by starting and finishing his school years in Roundup, Montana. He graduated from High School in the company of many friends, with whom he had started Kindergarten. As for me, I was the new kid on three, different, playgrounds during my junior year of High School: Longview, TX; New Underwood, SD; and Lavina, MT.

Here’s where the story begins! Later, we’ll do the introspective analysis of the common theme in this Foard journey. Enjoy!

Addison Kemp Foard was born in Baltimore, Maryland in the year of 1826. His son, Arthur Craig Foard joined his parents in the city during the year of 1860. His son, Charles Arthur Foard was the first generation to experience childhood in Montana, beginning in 1895. His son, James Burnett Foard graced the world by arriving in 1931; much more than a dad, he became a hero. Sometimes teased as being a dinosaur, my preference is to be thought of as a Classic, having arrived in the year of 1955 and given the name Kim Burnett Foard. The fellow who is following in the footsteps of his grandfathers began his journey on July 25, 1988. His name is Ryan Charles Foard.

At times, Ryan will hop in my pickup, reach over and take the Zune MP3 music player into his hands, and dial up my favorite Paul Overstreet song, Seein’ My Father In Me. We listen to it together. No explanation before as to why, nor any discussion afterwards about what; we each just bask in the thoughts and emotions.

For me, the chorus rings true in the relationship with my Dad:

And now lookin’ back I can recall the times we disagreed
When I could not take hold of his old fashioned ways
And the more I tried to prove him wrong
The more I proved him right
Now I know why he still stood by me
When I went through that stage

Recently, a new release by Brad Paisley, Anything Like Me, is the other side of that “Father-Son” coin. As I listened to it for the first time, each line of the song tugged at a heart-string and recalled a memory about my favorite son.

I’ve seen this look in Ryan’s eyes:

He’s gonna love me and hate me along the way
Years are gonna fly by; I already dread the day
He’s gonna hug his momma; he’s gonna shake my hand
He’s gonna act like he can’t wait to leave

One thing is for certain about Ryan: he does everything with style. When it came to leaving home after High School Graduation, think “tornado” and you’ll have some idea of the whirlwind of activity and suddenness of departure. In fact, he’s still twisting his way down the road of his version of the Australian walk-a-bout, on the backs of Brahma bulls.

He has built log-houses, poured concrete for custom homes, guided dudes hunting trophy elk into the Wyoming wilderness, driven beet truck on North Dakota farms, built fence in South Dakota and rode bulls in arenas from Canada to the Mexico border. Right now, he’s in Houston, Texas, a few miles from the ocean, in charge of his own crew, building fence around a wildlife refuge for the benefit of our United States Government. He’s 21.

This nomadic, adventuresome approach to life by Ryan Charles Foard began, at least, 184 years ago.

In 1826, Addison Kemp Foard arrived, to stay, in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1879, his son, Arthur Craig Foard headed for Montana and lived the life of miner, farmer, rancher, cobbler and saddle maker, with much travel in his retirement years.

In 1920, Charles Arthur Foard married and homesteaded a place to call home.

In 1953, my mom and James Burnett Foard began an adventure of travel that took them from North to South, three times!

In the fall of 1981, Kim Burnett Foard planted a seed that eventually rooted his family to the Roundup community for twenty-plus years.

Ryan Charles Foard has cut the chains on his anchors and is full steam ahead into uncharted waters!

Even now, Ryan sees his dad tethered to a life that has come full circle. My home in Red Lodge is just a few miles from Fishtail, the home of the first Foard Family to live in Montana. My office is in Billings, the familiar community of childhood memories, college education, and thirty years of service to a loyal family of clients.

From generation to generation, the pendulum swings.

One generation enjoys home; the next enjoys adventure. One generation loves to have friends and family come to visit; the next loves to socialize and entertain wherever there is an event. One generation thinks managing risk is a worthwhile endeavor; the next knows an experience is only worthwhile if it involves risk.

Ryan’s grandfathers were men bigger than life itself. They were hands-on kind of guys who were gifted in all things mechanical. His paternal grandfather could do things with semi-trucks that were the envy of others stuck in their four-wheel drive pickups. His attitude and frequent comment was, “If a man made it, I can fix it.” Ryan’s maternal grandfather could do things with airplanes that left many jaws hanging and tummies tickled. His attitude and frequent comment was, “Let’s go!”

Both men loved people and conducted their lives to express that affection. They enjoyed social occasions and frequently were the last to leave. While there, they were never the life of the party, or wall flowers. Simply, they were great conversationalists; they knew just the right balance of listening and sharing. In fact, they were each known to have made a telephone call to a wrong number and, then, to visit for a while with that new friend.
Grandfather Clock
Dads tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Grandfathers have that out of their systems and are content to be like big old oak trees: Massive, Accomplished, Polished, Strong, Straight and Tall. Father Time is often pictured as a grim reaper, carrying an hourglass or other timekeeping device (representing time’s constant movement). Grandfather Clocks are representative of the grandeur of statesmen and the indelible legacy of the pendulum swings, from generation to generation.

If watched closely, though, dads raise their hands from the circle of their work to offer huge smiles, at least four times a day. The traditional clock face is numbered from 1 to 12. Now, picture those hands raised and pointing to the numbers: Two and Ten. At 10 before 2 and 10 after 10 (AM and PM), the arc formed upward is only a small expression of the pride that dads have for their sons.

Jump for JumpTo carry on the traditions of his grandfathers, Ryan has big boots to fill. He shuffles at times to keep the toes pointed forward. Every now and then his spurs get tangled and he visits with Mother Earth. As he brushes himself off, he is calling for the next ride.

At the beginning of Ryan’s bull riding crusade, he mentioned to me one day, “Dad, riding these bulls is fairly easy. All you have to do is stay in the middle of them and ride ’em jump for jump!”

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Credits:
Genealogy  ~  June Foard
Photos  ~  Lindsey Foard

Forwards, or Backwards?

Sunlight Basin

The inanimate objects of Things can be placed in a spot to never move; the animated creatures of human Beings are always doing, and moving towards, something.  We move towards Stuff, or we move towards Principles.  More than the destination, life is all about the journey! 

If I offer for you to take a trip with me by exclaiming, “Let’s go!”, a legitimate response might be to ask, “Where?!” 

Why, then, do so many stumble through life unaware that their discomfort in the journey is related to choice of destination?  In fact, some actually believe they can “sit on the fence” and “play both ends against the middle” by refusing to choose a direction.  Mother Nature hates a vacuum; Fate will make choices for them.

Silly them; not choosing is a choice!  By analogy, think of a “fork in the road”.  Our choices are Left, or Right.  Those who refuse to choose find themselves wedged-up, and high-centered, on the Fork in the middle, and as a result, unable to move! 

So, again, the question is: “Which way: Forwards, or Backwards? 

To be fair, there is a caveat to this “trick” question.  The best answer includes another component, which truly is a Gift

As human beings, we tend to measure life in the way it is experienced: chronologically.  We all have a Past, Present and Future.  So, we tend to “Think” in that order; One, Two and Three. 

You’ve probably seen the bumper-sticker: “Accountants Do It By The Numbers.”  Well, this one does It by the Numbers, and the Letters, too!  The result is this Cowboy Poet & Philadelphia Lawyer, who wants you to consider that “One, Two, Three” may have a more precise order.  In fact, “Two, One, Three” is what you and I are encouraged to practice. 

I am among those who start their morning with:

Give us today the food we need.

Forgive us our mistakes, as we forgive others.

Lead us in the direction best for us and deliver us from harm.

We tend to like our ruts, rotes, and routines; they are very safe and comfortable. 

Recently, I was jolted from mine, into the uncomfortable awareness that there is more to those three sentences than what I was mumbling! 

Present: Our focus is to be on, “Right here, right now, it’s great to be alive.”  Rather than consume ourselves with the insatiable desires of what we want, our awareness is to be on what we, and others, need

Past: We all make them and they are a burden to our growth, unless we forgive and forget our foibles, and, those of others.  Mistakes are simply disguised opportunities to learn important lessons. 

Future: It waits for us with bated breath.  We have the choice to approach it with resignation and despair, or fascination and curiosity.  Since it is of what dreams are made, let’s tackle it! 

A favorite quote: “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no person. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” 

As with so many of life’s riddles, the answer is multi-faceted: We are to focus on the opportunities of today; learn the lessons from the past; and, boldly face the future! 

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